Gormley 'wants to run out of office' over incinerator
Published 04/03/2010 | 05:00
ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley was accused last night of trying to get out of his department to avoid being linked to a controversial incinerator in his constituency.
The Green Party is trying to get a fourth ministerial post from Taoiseach Brian Cowen in his forthcoming cabinet reshuffle -- much to the bemusement of Fianna Fail.
Among the proposals being kicked around by the Greens is Mr Gormley moving from the Department of the Environment to be replaced by backbencher Ciaran Cuffe.
In this rotation of ministerial posts, Mr Gormley would possibly become the Super Junior Minister for public sector reform, sitting at the cabinet table.
Fine Gael environment spokesman Phil Hogan said it was clear Mr Gormley wants to "run out" of his current department because he has no waste management strategy, particularly in relation to the Poolbeg incinerator.
"The minister wants out because he has failed to do what he promised the people of Dublin South-East, which is to stop the incinerator in Poolbeg," he said.
A spokesman for Mr Gormley dismissed Mr Hogan's claims as "utter nonsense".
The Greens are now attempting to package their damaging internal squabbling over ministerial positions as a power grab within the Coalition.
Mr Gormley is understood to be in talks with Mr Cowen over getting an extra position, in line with a deal it struck on entering coalition with Fianna Fail in 2007.
But Fianna Fail sources point out that the Greens lobbied for the number of junior ministers to be reduced from 20 to 15 last year.
"What they are really after is two juniors. I would say that kind of condition was in place at a time when it went to 20. That situation has changed with the reduction in juniors, yet they held on to their Minister of State. Are they now suggesting to Cowen he gets rid of another one of his own? Imagine the response to that from Fianna Fail," a source said.
Green Party chairman Senator Dan Boyle said the party was seeking a second junior minister in the forthcoming reshuffle. "It's not about individuals or personalities, it's about policies," he said.
But Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said he was not aware of any agreement to rotate senior ministers with backbenchers.
"It's a matter for the Taoiseach," he said. "I am concentrating on getting on with my own job," he added.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen repeatedly dodged questions over whether the Greens had a ministerial rotation arrangement in place.
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Greens were only interested in well-paid, pensionable jobs.
"When they look at this Cabinet, all they see is talk about jobs for the boys and the girls. If it were not so serious it would be like 'Lanigan's Ball'.
He said Mr Cuffe "has the political carving knife to the throat of his leader".
"All that is being talked about are well-paid and well-pensioned jobs, when 434,000 men and women are on the Live Register because the Government's strategy has failed," he said.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore asked Mr Cowen if he knew about the "crop rotation" arrangement within the Greens.
The Green Party ministers, TDs and senators met last night for more than 90 minutes.
It is believed the policy on ministerial positions was discussed at the parliamentary party meeting, but there was no comment afterwards.